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New USGS Fact Sheet About Landslides Delivering Slope Material to Nearshore Waters on California's Big Sur Coast

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Landslides are common along the rugged Big Sur coast in central California, where they frequently damage the popular Coast Highway and may impact nearshore marine life. To assist State and Federal agencies in managing this coastline, U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) scientists Cheryl Hapke (Kingston, RI) and Krystal Green (Santa Cruz, CA) have been studying the rates at which material erodes from Big Sur slopes and enters the waters of the adjacent Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary. They recently published "Rates of Landsliding and Cliff Retreat Along the Big Sur Coast, California—Measuring a Crucial Baseline" (USGS Fact Sheet 2004-3099), which describes some of their work. Using computer analyses of aerial photographs taken over three short time intervals between 1976 and 2001, the scientists calculated vertical changes in topography, "material-loss rate," within specific landslides over time. Their results indicate wide variations in net loss rates along the coast, with higher loss rates in areas of weaker rocks and during periods of higher rainfall. Their studies of sediment erosion and deposition along the Big Sur coast—conducted in cooperation with the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans), the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary, and the University of California, Santa Cruz—will help State and Federal agencies design coastal-management plans to minimize the environmental impacts of landslides and highway maintenance, while preserving the beauty and protecting the natural resources of this evolving coastline. The new Fact Sheet is available online at URL http://pubs.usgs.gov/fs/2004/3099/.

picture showing Big Slide (nearest scarp) and Pitkins Curve (rocky headland) series of images of the Big Slide-Pitkins Curve landslide area, taken from the new Fact Sheet, shows were material has been eroded (red) or deposited (blue) by landslide movement during three time intervals from 1976 to 2001
Above Left: Landslides at Big Slide (nearest scarp) and Pitkins Curve (rocky headland) are among those studied in detail by USGS scientists Hapke and Green. [larger version]

Above Right: This series of images of the Big Slide-Pitkins Curve landslide area, taken from the new Fact Sheet, shows were material has been eroded (red) or deposited (blue) by landslide movement during three time intervals from 1976 to 2001. Material loss rates are derived by dividing the change in elevation (ΔZ, in yards) by the length of the interval (in years). [larger version]


Related Sound Waves Stories
New Research Assistant to Study Landslides and Geologic Structures on the Big Sur Coast
October 2003

Related Web Sites
Rates of Landsliding and Cliff Retreat Along the Big Sur Coast, California—Measuring a Crucial Baseline
U.S. Geological Survey (USGS)

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in this issue: Fieldwork
Cover Story:
Locating Surf Scooter Nests in the Northern Boreal Forest

Further Investigation of Deep Coral Reef

Sea Otters 2005 Survey Numbers Dip

Outreach Ground Water Institute for Teachers

ISIS Group Visits USGS Woods Hole

USGS Scientists Address International Visitors

Meetings Suwannee River Basin and Estuary Integrated Science Workshop

USGS-NOAA Symposium

Publications New Fact Sheet About Landslides and Cliff Retreat

August Publications List


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Updated April 15, 2014 @ 01:53 PM (JSS)